Monthly Archives: October 2008

A Few Irreverent Thoughts

If God made man in his own image, how come we aren’t invisible too?

“We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.” (Richard Dawkins)

If you really think about it, one might say that the Inquisition was the original “Faith-Based Initiative”. Not so?

Remind me again…Which day was it when God made all the fossils?

The whole priest/pastor sex abuse thing doesn’t surprise me at all. I mean, you mix credulity, authority, robes, wine, and virgins…we should of seen it coming!

Why would a perfect deity create a system where being intellectually curious is a sin? Only man would concoct such a system… And, of course, he has.

It takes a sick mind…I mean a really, really sick mind…to go through life believing that there is an invisible something somewhere that loves you so much that if you don’t obey, worship, and adore it completely and absolutely, it will torture you brutally and mercilessly for eternity. Fucking think about it!

Creation Science and its ugly step-sister, “Intelligent Design”, do serve one extremely useful purpose I suppose. They do help tragically stupid people feel smart. (Want to have fun with a CS/ID supporter? Ask them to explain evolution.)

The Bible tells us that Jehovah is “a jealous God”. OK. But if you’re omniscient, omnipotent, and the only one of a kind in the entire universe…what in the hell is there to be jealous of?

Statistically, whether you are a believer or not, as well as how fervently you believe, depends largely on three factors: 1) Where on this earth you were born, 2) What your parents believe(d); and 3) Your level of education. (Yes, the higher the level of education attained, the lower the percentage of belief.) Hello!!!!

And finally two (real) recent headlines that caught my attention:

Nuns leave their brains to science STEPHANIE REITZ, Associated Press
Makes sense. I mean, what the hell…they weren’t really using them anyway.

No joke: Clowns spread the Gospel MATT SEDENSKY, Associated Press
Well no shit! Like that hasn’t been obvious for the past 2,000 years.

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A Pirate looks at Death…

Although in good health and looking forward to several more decades of driving people nuts, I recently set down my “final wishes” so Pat and the kids would know how I felt about checking out. It occurred to me that what I wrote might give folks who have never met me a clearer understanding of who I am and how I think, so I am publishing it here.

The Final Wishes and Ruminations of John E. Shuey

And there’s that one particular harbor,

Sheltered from the wind,

Where the children play on the shore each day,

And all are safe within.

A most mysterious calling harbor,

So far but yet so near.

I can see the day when my hair’s full gray,

And I finally disappear

Jimmy Buffett & Bobby Holcomb…One Particular Harbor

  1. Cremate my remains. All of them. If it’s cheap enough, shoot’em into space. If not, scatter them somewhere there’s lots of trees, critters, and sunshine.
  2. I doubt there will be much fuss…I never bothered to accumulate a lot of close friends. Then again, I don’t much care for fusses, so what the hell?
  3. I do not want any ministers, priests, rabbis, imams, or any other kind of superstition-peddling con-men at any last ceremony or whatever. Also no prayers, invocations, or other incantations to some invisible sky fairy. No shit, I mean it!
  4. As for music, I’m partial to Mozart, Buffett, the Beatles, and the Beach Boys…in no particular order. But it has to be light and fun. I’m not really all that upset about this and there’s no use ruining anyone else’s day either. If you can’t at least tap your toes to it, don’t fucking play it. And finally
  5. I want the following to be read to anyone who shows up at my goodbye party by the eldest of my children willing to read it. If all three (I think) pass, hire some sexy young lady to read it. They can be had cheap enough. It’s a combination of thoughts from Richard Dawkins, Penn Gillette, Mark Twain and me. Four of the brightest fellows I know.

So I’ve finally done it: gone and died. Big deal. I’m not the first, and all of us will, you know.

But don’t you see…that makes us the lucky ones!

To die, you must first be born. All the potential people who might have lived, but who have in fact never seen the light of day, are more numerous than all the grains of sand in the Sahara. We know this because the set of all possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people who have somehow managed to stir to life. We are therefore incredibly lucky, because it is we who have beat those stupefying odds. It is you and I who are here.

How wonderful it’s been. To be sure it hasn’t been without troubles or heartaches or disappointments, but hey… with no truly intelligent designer to arrange things for us, what else should we expect?

Look…I have gotten to eat carrot cake and drink the finest Bordeaux. I have stood within the Coliseum in Rome and Notre Dame in Paris. I’ve climbed to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun in Mexico City, and watched from a scant few yards away as a grizzly bear plodded through a thicket in the Denali Wilderness Area. I’ve laughed at George Carlin, sung along with Jimmy Buffett, and marveled at the intelligence and elegant prose of Richard Dawkins, not to mention the wit and wisdom of Bill Bryson. I’ve held three newborn babies in my arms, and watched awestruck as medical science gave one of them back to me which fate and poor design had conspired to take away. I’ve basked in the love of some very wonderful people, and a few marvelous canines. There isn’t much else to have wanted.

Folks…listen up because this is really important: We are made of stardust! Each and every one of us is composed entirely of atoms expelled by distant stars tens of millions or even billions of years ago. That, it seems to me, is far more inspiring and marvelous than believing we were squished together from a handful of mud by some jealous, megalomaniacal sky fairy.

Likewise, we are connected to — actually relatives of — every creature and plant alive now or that has ever lived on earth. That connection too is so much more incredibly exciting and satisfying than any bronze-age creation myth could ever hope to be.

And do you know the most wonderful thing of all? That being made of stardust and connection to all life now and ever thing? Well, we are the only creatures on earth with the ability to comprehend that. And that, in and of its self, makes us as special as we should ever need to feel.

Mark Twain once pointed out that he had no fear of death because he had been dead for billions of years before he was born, and it hadn’t really been a bother at all. That is pretty much my take on the thing as well.

Please don’t misunderstand. If I could have avoided leaving you I would have. I have loved each and every one of you in my own peculiar way. There have been times when I wished I could have been a bit better at it, but at least know I tried.

So, enjoy the food, the company, and especially the wine. Celebrate please, my, and your, tremendous luck. All my best to each of you.

John

Yes I am a pirate,
Two hundred years too late.
Cannons don’t thunder, there’s nothing to plunder,
I’m an over-forty victim of fate.
Arriving too late…
Arriving too late.

Jimmy Buffett…A Pirate Turns Forty

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The Bible as the Word of God

The Bible is supposed to be the inerrant word of an omniscient God.

The entire Christian faith is predicated on that single claim more than on anything else. If you don’t believe that, then you are completely out of step with your church and its history. Given that, how can any Believer account for any of the following:

  • There are two different creation stories in Genesisa few verses apart;
  • There is no evidence in either the historical record, nor from decades of diligent exploration and research on the part of Israeli archaeologists, for the existence of Moses nor the event described as the Exodus;
  • Similarlythere is no archaeological evidence for the existence of Nazareth prior to the third century A.D. Neither is it mentioned in either the ”inventory” of 63 Galilean cities and towns found in the Talmud, nor in the Histories of Josephuswho led a military campaign in and around Galilee (900 sq. miles – think Carroll County) in the First Jewish War (60 A.D.) and who listed 45 cities and towns, but no Nazareth;
  • The Bible contains several hundred contradictory passages – that is, passages that, if one is true, than the other cannot be;
  • In Genesis, bats are referred to as birds (What, God was weak at biology?);
  • The Noachian flood story is predicated on a simple, but huge, fallacythat all the living creatures on earth lived within easy walking distance of Noah’s house (How do you suppose the kangaroos got there?);
  • There was not, ever in Roman history, a census requiring all males to return to the city of their birth to be counted. It never happened, so Joseph never had to travel to Bethlehem in spite of what the gospel story claims;
  • There was no “slaughter of the innocents” under Herod. Not only is it not corroborated by any contemporary records or writings, but John the Baptist himself was only slightly older than Jesus. How did he survive?
  • At Jesus’ crucifixion, the Bible claims there was an earthquake, the sun disappeared, and the dead came back to life. As incredible as such events would be, no one alive wrote down a thing to substantiate the story. It is as though no one noticed; or that
  • Jesus is quoted as having said several times to his followers “There are some of you here today who shall not have tasted death before(the 2nd coming)” (Did we all miss something?).

If any of these claims or stories of the Bible are wrong, than the Bible cannot be said to be the inerrant word of an omniscient God. But what else is it? Well, since the Jewish God hated all the same people and all the same things that bronze-age Jewish shepherds hated, what do you think? The Bible is obviously the product of menand not very educated or sophisticated men at that.

Sohow can you claim any part of the Bible, or your own particular beliefs, to be true?
I knowyou don’t want to think about thisbut you should. The rest of your lives, not to mention your sanity, are at risk.

Let me close on a very contemporary example of just how damaging accepting the claims of the Bible on Faith can be:

Little Madeline Neumann is dead. She died of diabetes.

Dale and Leilani Neumann, her parents, chose to pray to God/Jesus to heal her when she fell ill rather than seek medical attention. The mother has been quoted as believing that the girl could still be resurrected. (As a side note, the parents have been charged with negligent homicide in Madeline’s death.)

Question: What did these parents do wrong?

If you are a Christian who believes the Bible to be the inerrant word of an omniscient and omnipotent God, the answer is incredibly simpleNOTHING! The Neumanns did precisely what Jesus, the son of and one with the Abrahamic God, is recorded in the Bible to have instructed.

Multiple times. For example:

In Matthew 7:7 Jesus says: “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! “

Again, in John, chapter 14, verses 12 through 14: “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it”

And again we read in James 5:15-16: “And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.”

This is not an exhaustive list; merely a sampling. But

  • If the Bible is the Inerrant Word of an omniscient, omnipotent God, and
  • If the Neumanns did as the Bible in numerous verses instructs, then

What went wrong? How could little Madeline possibly be dead?

None of the typical mumbo-jumbo is acceptable here: “God works in mysterious ways”, or “God does answer all prayers, sometimes just not the way we want”.

That’s Bullshit! Read the verses above again. Whip out you own copy and examine any of the dozen or more of the others that say the same sort of thing.

There are no qualifiers, no hedges. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” doesn’t leave a whole lot of wiggle room!

There is another answer, of course. The only answer that makes sense.

Not only is the Bible not the inerrant word of an omniscient, omnipotent God, but there is no God. Period.

It was sheer and utter ignorant superstition that murdered poor Madeline; on the part of the Neumanns, on the part of whoever taught them such crap in the first place, and on the part of the entire Christian community worldwide which, in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, insists on continuing to give credence to bronze-age myths in what is supposed to be an age of science and reason, therefore enabling helpless morons like the Neumanns.

So… what do you believe?

If, for whatever reason, you are choosing to believe some of the prehistoric myths, but not all; how do you choose? What are your criteria? What, exactly, gives one unsubstantiated myth more credence than another?

Take some time. Think about it.

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